Wednesday, December 30, 2015


I made cassoulet for dinner tonight and my parents loved it so I will try and recreate some of the recipe here. 

1. Make duck stock from a leftover duck.

2.  In large deep pan, cook a few slices of diced bacon.  Add a few thick slices of ham to that. And any duck from the duck you are making stock from (chicken works too)

3.  When browned, remove and add 4 sausages (chicken) I used two spicy tow regular.  Brown them. (You can add a little olive oil to keep pan from getting to dry.

4. Remove from heat and add one thin slices onion, and half a head of garlic (don't dice, just halve the cloves) sauté in pan. (Add a little olive oil to keep from getting too dry, also can add a little stock)

5. Remove and add to your growing pile of stuff.  Now add small carton of sliced mushrooms and 5 chopped carrots. Add some stock and cook.

6. Remove mushrooms and carrots and add to pile. Pour stock in pan and bring to boil.  Add 3 cans of cannelloni beans.  Arrange sausages in pan and then add rest of ingredients.  Throw in a handful of grape tomatoes.  Boil.

7. After 20 minutes, reduce heat and cover for another 20 minutes.  Then 7 minutes before serving remove lid and boil again.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tosca Kage

Tosca Kage

Growing up this was a favorite for Sunday coffee in the winter.  Coffee and cake is a traditional aspect of hygge, the Danish concept of living beautifully.  As kids we had hot cocoa with real whipped cream instead of coffee.  

I found this recipe in my others old recipe box and tried it out on my parents and sister for the third Sunday in advent this year. It's excellent, although my sister and I both remember it being a denser moister cake.  We think the recipe we are remembering is our Aunt's but no one is sure where that recipe went.

The original recipe was in the Reporter Dispatch from White Plains, dated February 17, 1971.

The recipe calls for a skillet, but I used a pie dish.  The recipe also says to butter the dish and coat in fine bread crumbs but I used flour instead of bread crumbs.  Still used butter.


Ingredients for cake

2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar (original recipe called for 1 cup granulated)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1-1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of sea salt (recipe called for 1/4 teaspoon salt)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter.

Prepare dish with butter and flour

Beat eggs sugar and vanilla.

Blend flour, baking powder and salt.

Stir flour into eggs, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with the flour.

Beat in melted butter

Pour into dish and bake at 325 until done, about 30 minutes.

While cake is baking make topping.


Ingredients for topping

1 cup sliced almonds.
6 tablespoons caster sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar (recipe called for only granulated sugar)
4 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons butter (recipe did not call for)

Note: I quadrupled the topping recipe which is why it's weird.  Eventually will convert to cups!  The quadrupled amount was the right amount, imo.  Can't even imagine a skimpy topping like the recipe called for!

Heat all the above ingredients to boiling on stove. 

Remove cake from oven and spread topping over cake.

Return to oven and use broiler until the topping is bubbling.  You should have a cookie sheet under the cake to catch drippings.

Remove and let partially cool, tastes great warm but I like it after it's sat for a little bit, I feel like flavors get richer and the cake is definitely easier to cut!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015


Got to spend my last day in Denmark in wonderful Copenhagen.  Took the train in and walked to Nyhavn and back.  Did some shopping, got soaked in the rain, got stuck on an escalator, had a pølser (hotdog), bought pastry and found an amazing clock at Illums Bolighus (my favorite store in the world) to bring home.

1. Illums Bolighus.  The best store in the world for Nordic design, this is the real deal.

And yes, I literally got stuck on the escalator.  They eventually had to cut my skirt to get me out.  Luckily I didn't have a wardrobe malfunction!

2. Materials for making the beautiful Danish Porcelain at Royal Copenhagen.  Yes the blue is mostly cobalt.  Swoon.  My uncle worked for them growing up and I remember touring the workshops where each piece of porcelain is hand painted.  I was fascinated by it.

3.  Denmark has one of the highest rates of bicycles in the world.  50% of Danes bike to work.  Everywhere you go in Cooenhagen are piles of bicycles and 98% of them aren't even locked!

Here's the preferred SUV version for bringing your kids to school. 

4. Famous Tivoli gardens.  Haven't been in forever but a must see if you go in the Summer.

5. Nyhavn at the end of Strøget (the main walking street which runs from the main square to the harbor. (Also where Illums is located!) 

6.  Danish pølser are yummy.  Traditionally they were bright red but those are hard to find these days.  I always liked the regular ones anyway.

6.  Final pastry at La Glacé, I always recommend a stop here for afternoon coffee for anyone who goes to Copenhagen. It was raining so most people were inside. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Anna Anchers house (and her husband Michael too)

There is a lot I can say about the Skagen painters, but one of my favorites is Anna Anchers.  Her husband and daughter were also artists and from what I can gather she was well respected in the artists community.  Her work is often more intimate than some of her contemporaries focusing on home and family and bathing them always in the beautiful Skagen light. 

Here are some pictures from her and her husbands house.

1. I'm inspired to use a tapestry/rug for my tablecloth.  Bohemian level expert! 

2.  Fresh flowers in Michaels spacious studio. Also, more rugs as tablecloths!

3.  Anna's studio is cleaner and simpler than her husbands.  I read that it was more a private space for her to work from whereas her husbands studio (Rihanna next door) was more social.

4. Tools of the trade in Anna's studio.

5.  The kitchen.

6.  My favorite double portrait. Michael and Anna painted each other's portraits in the same painting.  The title is called 'Appraising the Days Work', they must have had a terrific relationship.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Ruths Hotel and Danish Hygge

We had the absolute pleasure of staying in the wonderful Ruths Hotel in Gammel Skagen on the northern tip of Jutland in Denmark. I can't say enough good things about this treasure of a hotel, what they excel at is the essence of Danish 'hygge' a word that simply does not translate.  But I will try to explain it in pictures.  

1. Creative and naturalistic attention to detail.  Like using this mussel shell as a salt scoop. 

2.  Beautiful and soothing decor full of natural light like in our suite.

3. Delicious beyond belief homemade food like this chocolate spread and the chocolate flakes on their homemade bread fresh from the oven in the morning. 

4.  A love of great design like this gorgeous Finn Juhl chair beside the wood burning fire place, which was going most of the time we were there.

5.  In fact hygge relies heavily on fires and candles, so much so that we even had a supply of tea lights in our room.  And I got to paint by candle light as well!

6.  In fact, they are so wonderful, they even managed to arrange for a rainbow on the morning we left! 

Though we didn't have time to try it this trip, they also have a phenomenal gourmet restaurant, and judging by their non-gourmet food, I can only imagine it to be brilliant. And a spa too!

I can't wait to return.  If you want more information, check them out online at:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Working with Galleries and Stores

I have had a fantastic time showing my work at Kirby and Conpany for the past few months.  It has been a real honor and a pleasure to work with such a beautiful store and wonderful people.

As my show comes to a close I have become aware that some people thought that it might be better to wait until after the show to purchase artwork so that I wouldn't have to split the sale with the store.  So I'd like to talk a little about my thoughts on the subject.

I'd rather represent myself than show with just any gallery or showroom.  So when I do decide to show in a bricks and mortar location I really choose carefully and only show in places that I really believe in, points I consider are:

Personal Chemistry
Good percentages
Shared Vision
Exposure to new markets for my work

It's important that I have good sales when I show in these venues so that the next time I approach a place I want to work with I can point to past successes.

It's also important that these venues get compensated for the work they put into promoting my work and for the wall space I occupy in their locations that could contain other stuff.

I will continue to look for great partners as I go forward and I will also continue to promote and sell my work on my own.

As always, I am profoundly thankful for all who support my work, from sharing my work and events on social media to purchasing my paintings.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Driving in Italy

I was really excited to drive in Italy, but it had been awhile since I drove in a foreign country, I was concerned about navigation and by the reputation of Italian drivers as being a little bit crazy.

I arrived in Milan and picked up my Renault Twingo, which felt like it could fit in the back of my Wrangler.  It had only 13 km on it and was brand new (I put 1,500km on it during the course of the week).

The drive down to Umbria was without incident.  The rest stops were plentiful and I had rented a GPS so I wouldn't have to worry about getting lost.

I drove a lot in Umbria and then went to Rome and Milan.  My GPS crapped out in Rome so I ended up my trip relying on old school maps, Italy's excellent signage and my very fortunate sense of direction.

Here are some of my thoughts on driving in Italy:
  • Italians believe they are race car drivers, they speed and tailgate constantly.
  • Driving in Umbrian hill towns means navigating two way roads as wide as your tiny rental car.
  • Sometimes these roads end in dead ends so be comfortable backing up.
  • Umbria has a lot of gravel roads, it can be dusty.
  • Gas is expensive, fortunately the cars mileage is superior to American cars.
  • Manual transmissions really are best.
  • Driving is an amazing way to see the countryside and get off the beaten path.
Caridad driving down a two way street with pedestrian traffic in Lugnano in Teverina

Off roading in my little Twingo...poor little car!
The Road between Rome and Milan along the coast.

Someone found a good parking space!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mona and Klaus

One of the many unexpected delights of my trip to Umbria and stay in Porchiano Del Monte was getting to meet Mona and Klaus.  When I arrived in Porchiano, Caridad told me we were having dinner with her friends and neighbors.  It turns out they were Danish (as is my mother) and so we totally hit it off.  They run a B&B in Porchiano (Click here for their face book page) and judging by the hospitality they showed me (not even a guest) I can imagine what a treat it would be to stay there. They have an outstanding view over the rooftops and the valley and Mona and Klaus are both excellent cooks.  They grow a large amount of their own food and I was even honored to try there home grown meet (they raised their own pig last year and we had bacon and a type of salami from him).  Plus they are the absolute nicest people (I even liked their cats).

Everyone should be lucky enough to get out of the big cities and tourist attractions of Italy and spend some time living the Italian life like I did in Porchiano.

Klaus, Mona and Caridad on the balcony, First night there.

In danish we would call this a Rullepolse, I have no idea how you would call it in English.  The raised the pig and made it themselves.  When I say it was one of the best things I have ever tasted I am not exaggerating! 

Homemade rugbrod (Danish pumpernickel), homemade rullepolse, homemade Aegekage including home grown eggs and bacon.

The view from the terrace overlooking Umbria and the roofs of Porchiano.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Top 10 Reasons to visit Umbria

10. The food.  I had wild foraged asparagus and home grown bacon, amazing pizza and fresh pasta.  The food was simple but exquisite in its freshness and flavor.

9. Charming unknown hill towns to visit.  Many don't even have hotels but places to stay can be found in AirBnB and similar and its a great experience.  I stayed in Porchiano Del Monte.

8.  It's the green heart of Italy.  There are many natural beauties to be found.  Just driving through the countryside was a constant delight.

7.  It's full of monsters!  Check out the Parco Dei Mostri not far from Rome.

6.  No crowds.  Unlike Tuscany, Umbria is just enough off the beaten path that you can enjoy your trip without the constant barrage of tourists and tourist traps.

5. Festivals like Penna In Fiore which j went to and also the famous Spoleto Jazz Festival

4.  It's Affordable.  Umbria is relatively inexpensive.  I was constantly surprised by how little things cost.

3.  Assisi.  A spectacular city that was home to St. Francis.

2.  You can stay on a farm or vineyard that doubles as a B&B by staying at an agritourismo.

1.  The people.  I was completely welcomed by the people I met there.  From my host Caridad, to the little old ladies of Porchiano del Monte that. We're concerned by my walking out of the house without shoes.  To my hosts neighbors who coined for me and treated me like a daughter.  It was like coming home. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Park of Monsters - Parco Dei Mostri

This morning I drove the short distance to Parco Dei Mostri.  The park was built by the Duke of Bomarzo in the late 1500's in memory of his wife.  Full of allegorical, fantastic and massive sculptures made even more magical by the fact that the trees are shedding their seed pods and which float through the air and catch light.  A sacred River runs through most of the heavily wooded park as well.  If you are ever in Rome, especially with children, this place is definitely worth the trip!

This monster was big enough that a tall person can easily walk in the mouth. 

These giants were wrestling, note the railing next to them for scale.  

Found an elephant for my Friend Elaine:) 

The leaning house.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Penna in Teverina

Today Caridad had a festival in Penna in Teverina to attend so I came with her to see the flower festival 'Penna in Fiori' and paint.  Painted two small pieces and had a great time.

Tonight, I returned to Penna with my new Danish friends Klaus and Mona for the community dinner in conjunction with the festival.  We sat in the piazza and ate a very nice meal, with an open bar and live jazz for 5 euro.

It's so special to visit Umbria and get such a wonderful taste of country life in Italy!  

Painting in Penna.

Penna in Teverina from outside the walls.

At the community dinner.

Kids playing 'Hide and Seek' in the Medieval section of the city.

Lugnano in Teverina

After painting, Caridad had to teach a lesson so I went to another nearby city called Lugano in Teverina.  The medieval streets were up and down and turned all around in a maze, which made me grateful for modern urban planning.  I sat in the piazza and did a quick sketch of the old church and listened to the bells of the church.  And then I enjoyed the spectacular view across the valley.

I wish I could share the smells of Italy on the Internet.  Umbria is very much country and you come across hints of wood smoke as you walk.  I followed the smell of a bakery to find some fresh made bread and the pines and herbs were constant as we worked in the countryside yesterday. 

The narrow, twisting and steep streets of Lugnano in Teverina.

My quick sketch of the church.

The view from Lugnano in Teverina

Another image of Lugnano in Teverina